Posts Tagged ‘Weight Loss’

The Third to Last Post: On Plastic Surgery

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on September 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm

As regular readers may note, I am cleaning up loose ends before I move on.  For example, I finally posted the Rules of Engagement page I had drafted sometime Aprilish when we’d had a visit from a concerned but kind self-promoter (some might say “concern troll”) who thought I was presenting an unnecessarily dark (I would say realistic) impression of weight-loss maintenance.  The Rules page is no longer applicable, of course, but to people who come visiting when the blog is closed down and who happen upon the post that inspired it, it will make sense.

I had also meant, shortly after I opened the blog, to say a word or two about plastic surgery.  In my initial post on The Unfairness of Weight-Loss Maintenance, I mentioned the issue of loose skin. 

“Unfairness 7.  You hide a secret under your clothes: your body may be deformed.  Friends say you look great, but naked in front of the mirror you find your pendulous parts and saggy skin discouraging.  Some maintainers may need counseling; others undergo expensive plastic surgery.”

Well, I was one who went for plastic surgery.  I think it is important to talk about this issue openly.  So often it is reduced to a mere vanity concern, and it is not. 

For some people, I imagine radical weight loss presents a pleasing image, if not nude, then in clothing.  For many of us, however, if our skin is not elastic any more, losing radical weight results in a mirror image that we don’t recognize.  It doesn’t even look like a human as we have come to understand it.  The loose folds may conceal the parts that make us sexually capable and deform those parts that we heretofore thought defined us as sexually appealing. 

Many naturally trim people regard fat people as asexual or unappealing regardless, and Madison Avenue does much to perpetuate this notion.  Sadly, many fat people buy into the myth as well.  That, however, was not my experience with my own fat body.  On the way up, weightwise, I became accustomed to my ever increasing curves, lumps and bumps over the years it took to acquire them.  I was joyful, sexual and fully human and, to my thinking, a Boticelli babe.  On the way down it was very different.  Within a period of months, I became a conglomeration of saggy parts.  I didn’t adapt well to this change.  For example, during intimate times with my husband, instead of being present in the moment and contemplating how to please him, I became self-conscious.  I positioned myself so he wouldn’t grab handfuls of flesh. 

In my more mundane moments, as well, my body would remind me of its new predicament.  As I ran or did other aerobic exercise, the loose parts would bounce about distractingly.  Sometimes they would grow itchy from this bouncing, or hurt.  It made me angry and sad.

I decided, because I could, to get plastic surgery.  I won’t go into the details of the process.  Actually, No Celery has produced a nice accounting of a tummy tuck, if you want that.  What I would like to do however, is issue a cautionary note, both to people who are considering plastic surgery after radical weight loss and people who are in a position to support them … or not. Read the rest of this entry »


Thin Privilege

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on August 1, 2011 at 10:20 am

Last week was vacation.  Breckenridge, Colorado.  Note in the picture below, I am the one you cannot see because my head is down, on the far side of the raft, and I’m paddling with the intensity of a windmill in a tornado, thinking “Oh, Sh*t!  Oh, Sh*t!  Those rocks are so hard and my head (under this cheap-assed plastic salad bowl) is so soft!”  My kid is the one smiling so hard he had to loosen the chin strap on his helmet.

Rafting Brown's Canyon 2011

Rafting Brown's Canyon in the Arkansas River, Colorado. Photo by Performance Tours Rafting.

I didn’t give many details in my “away” post about being gone or why, because one doesn’t want to hand a map and game plan to robbers and such who troll the internet looking for people to reveal when and how long their houses will be empty.  I suppose I could have said something about hoping my house sitter’s Rottweiler would behave himself around my terrier, but that would have been an obvious ruse.

At any rate, I’m back, and the house is intact, unrobbed, and the terrier is home from the Hound-Dog Hilton.  And I have a blatant experience of thin privilege to share.  And that prompts me to talk more on the topic.

Eight years living in Maintenanceville, thin privilege is different.  I think it would be good for my size acceptance friends, in particular, to know how so.  Anyone who has ever lost and regained weight (as most people in the size acceptance community have) has had a taste of the “early” form of thin privilege and I think this is sad, because the first few months of thin privilege is tinged with the worst kind cruelty, hubris, embarrassment and awkwardness.   Eight years out, it’s still awkward and wrong, but it isn’t so cruel. Read the rest of this entry »

American Dream meet American Dream No. 2

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on July 14, 2011 at 8:29 am

“You can accomplish anything you want with hard work.”  

You dare not criticize it.  You dare not suggest that light skin color may convey an advantage, that already having resources or growing up in a home where the parents are educated and speak proper English may help.  You will be whomped squarely with an anecdote that breaks that rule, you Negative Nelly, you!  People pull themselves up by the bootstraps every day, and if you temper your celebration of their achievement – by citing statistics or expressing compassion for the people who don’t succeed despite trying – then you will be put in your place.  It’s downright unpatriotic to suggest that the playing field isn’t even.  That’s just an excuse for laziness.

Well, the American Dream will be the platform of Miss South Carolina in this year’s Miss America pageant.  (Be sure to click through to the video.)  Technically, Bree Boyce’s platform is “Eating healthy and fighting obesity,” but the subtext is the American Dream.  Bree weighed 234 pounds when she was 17.  Now, at 22, she weighs 122.  She uses her life story as the example of the obesity-curing benefits of hard work and rugged individualism.

“I did it all on my own.  I did it for myself.”  She tells the Today Show’s Ann Curry.

She conflates being fat with being unhealthy and she conflates “it” (weight loss) with the American Dream:

“I had so many dreams and aspirations for myself.  And I knew that being so unhealthy I wouldn’t be able to accomplish any of those dreams.  So by changing my lifestyle completely, I did a 180, and it’s been completely amazing, and I’m just so excited.”

From what I can tell, however, her dreams and aspirations have been to get thin and win beauty pageants, like her older sister Tiffany.  In a family that supports those aspirations.  And she has done it. 

She works out two to three hours a day when preparing for contests and she “maintains” her “lifestyle” with half- to one-hour of daily exercise.   But she hasn’t spent much time in “lifestyle” mode, methinks.   She’s been working hard.  She loves looking at her swim suit competition pictures, and, indeed, there’s no denying that she is ripped.  She tells Ann that when she did her swim suit promenade, to keep the butterflies in her stomach at bay, she was just thinking about herself, her hard work and all the people she could inspire.  She kept herself focused on how she is “a confident and successful woman.  And to strut my stuff on that stage was the proudest moment of my life.” 

In the end, it’s all the American Dream.  She sums it up:

“Whatever it is in life that you want to do, it takes hard work.  There’s no secret.  It’s hard work, and determination and perseverance.  All those things.”  Read the rest of this entry »

The Plate

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on June 6, 2011 at 11:01 am

It’s the topic of the day (or recent bygone days) at many blogs and websites:  The new US dietary guidelines replacing the old Pyramid, aka “My Plate.”

Knowing full well that I’m howling in the wind, I just blasted off the following missive to the “Contact Us” email address.

Warning to my size acceptance friends, restriction talk, could be triggering.  I also apologize for using the “O” word.  Had to consider my audience, and “fat” wouldn’t fly with them.

No Salutation.  Email address is

Thank you for your hard work to date.  Here are suggestions for the new plate, which is better than the pyramid, but still inaccurate.  I hope you will integrate them into a new improved plate in the future:

1.  Refined grains have no place on the plate, they should be off the placemat in a distant place (that may look like an ice cream stand or some such) called “now and then treats.” 

2.  Replace the “grains” category with “nutritious starches.” Corn, legumes and baked potatoes are better switched out with the whole grains, not with the green leafies, etc.

3. Change the Dairy glass to “Dairy or Alternative” and link to your alternative section.

I’m not an RD, but I am an eight-year radical weight-loss maintainer (27% of my body’s highest established weight), which is probably more rare.  I think most RDs would agree with my adjustments to your plate. The milling and baking industry and dairy farmers might have a bone to pick, but you serve the broader citizenry, yes?

Regarding your weight-loss advice:  it is outdated and based in the cultural mythology that weight loss is routinely permanent.  Empirical science does not support this.  You would do more to promote health if you shared that weight maintenance is noble, challenging and rare enough in itself.  Most adults over 30 gain 1 to 2 pounds per year.  Preventing that would be helpful.  People should live joyfully most of the time, eat healthfully most of the time (following the revised plate I’m suggesting), exercise most days, then treasure the body that happens, regardless of its BMI category.  Read the rest of this entry »

Obesity Public Policy: Let’s Just Call it Confusitarian

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on April 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Thank you to Anonymous blog reader KX for submitting the following two-part essay for my consideration.  Amitai Etzioni on Obesity Public Policy Part One  and Part Two.   Do not be intimidated, my gentle readers.  In PDF form, part one, before notes, is only three-and-a-half pages and part two is two-and-a-half.

I read the essay(s) before reading the author’s bio (silly, ignorant me), but as I read I could tell that he’s an outsider to our issue.  He clearly doesn’t understand or divide out the players the way we might, or as I have.  He has absorbed our issue as any intelligent, disinterested person might and then proposed public policy recommendations in keeping with his particular theory and area of expertise. 

Amitai Etzioni is a respected public policy scholar who has been a senior advisor to the white house and held university professorships at some of this country’s most prestigious institutions (Columbia, Harvard, George Washington).  He’s been president of the American Sociological Association and the International Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics.  In 1990, he founded the Communitarian Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to “shoring up the moral, social and political foundations of society.”  (The group also calls itself nonpartisan, but Etzioni’s jabs at Libertarianism would seem to betray that claim.)  He’s the author of more than 30 books, none on obesity from what I can tell.

In other words, he is the “guru” of a respected theory/platform, “responsive communitarianism,” and in this two-part essay, he applies his theory to obesity public policy.  It is worth a look from us, because it is most certainly getting a look from powers that can influence our lives.

The first half of part one is very hard reading.  He lays a foundation of assumptions:  Fat is BAAAAD!  Fat is expensive.  Fat kills.  His sources are ones that we in the fray have refuted or countered with alternative sources many times over. Read the rest of this entry »

I Have Good News, and . . .

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on February 21, 2011 at 7:23 am

The year is 2050.   Two women with a BMI of 40 sit waiting to meet with their General Practitioner, Doctor Pense.  The nurse calls the first patient, and does not take height and weight.  The appointment takes place in the doctor’s office, not the exam room.  The initial exam and lab tests are done.  The Doctor speaks first.

“Well, Donna, I have good news for you, mostly, and some bad news.  The good news is that your type of obesity is one that is medically insignificant.  Your fat does not compromise your health.  You may, in the future, have some joint issues, arthritis.  You may need new knees or hips.  However, for now, there’s nothing medically indicated.  That means the bad news is that insurance won’t pay for further treatment at this time, and I know you were hoping for some help with weight loss.  Insurance will pay for those joints as you need them.” 

“Medically insignificant?” 

“Yes, your fat composition, disposition is not likely to create any more medical problems for you than if you were naturally trim.  Your life expectancy is the same as a naturally trim person’s of your age.  Your fat is cosmetic.  Did you find that pamphlet I gave you on hygiene and special care of the fat body helpful?”

“Sure, Doc.  It’s helpful.  Uh . . . I’m still . . .  Do you know why I’m fat?”

“That would require more testing.  All I can tell you now is that it’s benign.”

“So, you’re saying I have to live with this enormous butt?”

“Oh, Silly, you . . .”

“No, seriously, I’ve had to buy special furniture for my house.  This isn’t funny.  The trend recently has been for stick furniture, and it’s been a nightmare trying to find good, sturdy stuff.  And that’s just the beginning of . . .” 

“Yes, yes.  I’m sorry.  That’s an unfortunate trend.  But it is only fashion.  You know, back at the turn of the century, some doctors’ offices didn’t even have chairs to accommodate people of different sizes.   That wasn’t a fashion statement, it was ignorance.” Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on Science, Optimism and Bias

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on January 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Happy New Year!  Hope you all had lovely holidays.  It’s good to be back at the blog, and back on the internet, for that matter.  (Long story involving words like #!%^&$!#!!, and a whole lotta bad Karma directed at AT&T.)

Between holiday adventures and internet mayhem, I managed to slip in a post about one of my weight maintenance peccadilloes – my ability to measure fluid in ounces using my gulp mechanism.  I must admit that when I get that personal, I do feel a bit self-conscious and self-indulgent, but I think it’s instructive – for me, mostly, but also for others who participate in the fray.  We broke into a lovely discussion about the admirable pursuit of goals, and when that pursuit crosses an invisible line and becomes something less noble.  I don’t think we reached any conclusions, but I came away recommitted to the idea that I should NEVER suggest, “if I can do this anyone can.”  Even if it’s true that anyone CAN do what I do, maybe not everyone should.  One person’s pursuit of a goal may be, in all likelihood, another person’s gateway to disorder.

Somehow, in the comments, RNegade was possessed to share a couple of science-related links.  (Whew!)  My favorite was this New Yorker article by Jonah Lehrer on the “Decline Effect” that happens to our sense of scientific certainty.   This “Decline Effect” is part of a larger problem with bias in science that misshapes our understanding of a variety of social and medical issues.  I put the phrase in quotes, because, as Lehrer notes, “This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology. In the field of medicine, the phenomenon seems extremely widespread . . .”   

As I understand it, the “Decline Effect” happens when the scientific method, and all its noble precepts, leads a scientist (or team) to discover a statistically significant anomaly, Read the rest of this entry »

Intuitive Eating: Part II, and Over the Top

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on December 28, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Trigger alert, my size acceptance friends. I’m about to get into some of my techniques. I want to compare notes with my maintainer friends. I’ll also welcome your thoughts too, but you may not wish to read further, and I’m cool with that.

It was four days ago. I casually took my empty wine glass with me to the bathroom. I suppose I could have troubled my mother-in-law for a measuring cup (or just gone to the cupboards and found one myself), and she wouldn’t have thought me odd. She knows I work at weight-loss maintenance. I have bemoaned it to her before. She’s heard the “it’s-not-a-lifestyle-it’s-a-job” shpiel.

But I knew I didn’t really need a measuring cup, and I am self-conscious about drawing attention to my weight-loss maintenance unless someone else brings it up. Actually, even if someone brings it up. (It starts a whole it’s-really-more-complicated-than-women’s-magazines-make-it-out-to-be monolog, that I find embarrassing for its self-centeredness. And it’s nearly impossible to not sound braggadocios.) So rather than be caught using a measuring cup by some other family member, I used my other method.

I closed the bathroom door, filled the glass with water to the point that my father-in-law had filled it with wine. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and then . . . Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Seven ounces. Here’s something I know about myself: one hearty-but-even gulp in a series equals an ounce. (Had the final gulp been a partial, I would have rounded down, but it was, indeed a full gulp.) Multiply that by 23 calories. My glass of wine had been 161. Round to nearest ten: 160. Reset the day’s total: I’m at 1660. Use the john, and rejoin the party.

Is that body wisdom or just body knowledge? Since I hide in the bathroom, is it a sign of disorder? I think it’s just being polite. When people see you pull out a measuring cup at a party, it can be interpreted as a judgment of their consumption. Or it looks like an invitation: “ask me about my weight-loss management.” I know that. Read the rest of this entry »

Intuitive Eating: Part I

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on December 21, 2010 at 5:46 am

To understand how I have modified (ruthlessly twisted and manipulated?) intuitive eating, which I will share with you after Christmas, you must first know what it is.  Here is a succinct summary, which comes from the website of Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA, the authors of a 1995 book and its 2003 update entitled Intuitive Eating:  A Revolutionary Program that Works. These women claim to be the “original” experts on the topic, and I won’t dispute that.  I will, however, roll my eyes at them for using the explosive adjective “Revolutionary” and I will also accuse them of being too vague. “Program that Works” to do what?  Take off weight?  Come to peace with your body and food?  Whatever YOU want it to do (and will make money for the authors). 

Both size acceptance proponents and weight-loss promoters claim Intuitive Eating as a native belief system.  And this confusion has been unhelpful in a manner that should horrify these authors. It gives the imprimatur of size acceptance to something that can be twisted into weight-loss disorder.  The authors come from the vantage point of counseling people with eating disorders.  They certainly weren’t intending people to use their concepts in a disordered manner, and yet that may be happening, and I may be an example of it. 

Another example of Tribole and Resch’s vagueness would be the first line from the succinct summary I linked:  Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   

Again:  approach to WHAT?  It probably should say approach to eating . . .  But even adding this clarification, it is vague.  I’m sure that Weight Watchers would feel comfortable inserting its logo in place of the phrase “Intuitive Eating.”  As would Slim4Life. As would Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS).  As would any number of diets that believe themselves not to be diets (or promote themselves as such), but rather “approaches,” or “lifestyles” that just happen to lead to (presumed radical and permanent) weight loss.  Read the rest of this entry »

Shhhhh, They’re Talking about US! Let’s Listen and then Talk about THEM

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on November 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm

First, I would encourage everyone to come join the roulette table.  You still have time before the wheel spins, the winner is named and I reveal my hypothesis.  BUT, in the meantime, if you have already placed your bet, or you otherwise have an extra 26 minutes to spare, you may wish to watch the entertainment in the Obesity Studies Lounge.  Please know that there is NO particular reason I post the following picture.

Bosley and the Angels

 Or this one:

Lee Majors

Any resemblance of our entertainers to the above pictured cast and/or ex-spouse of a cast member is purely coincidental, and we will only talk about them with the utmost respect. Read the rest of this entry »